As part of its commitment to encourage responsible drinking in the country, Guinness Nigeria Plc. has joined hands with four leading supermarket chains in Lagos to campaign against underage drinking. Guinness Nigeria expressed this commitment at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the four supermarket chains in Lagos as part of the company’s official kick–off of its Age Verification Programme. The supermarket chains are Addide Stores, Just Rite Superstores, SPAR Artee Group and Grocery Bazaar Ltd.
According to the brewing giant, the campaign against underage drinking was borne out of the company’s commitment to reduce access to alcohol by underage people. In October 2012, Diageo, the parent company of Guinness Nigeria, was one of the 13 leading global producers of wine, beer and spirits that launched new commitments to reduce harmful drinking as a means of supporting member states to implement the World Health Organization’s (WHO) global strategy of reducing harmful use of alcohol. One of the commitments is reducing underage drinking.
Speaking at the ceremony, Managing Director/CEO of Guinness Nigeria Plc., Mr. Soren Lauridsen represented by the Corporate Relations Director, Guinness Nigeria, Mr Sesan Sobowale, described underage drinking as a global issue that required concerted efforts to tackle, adding that the company is already taking proactive steps to combat its occurrence or spread of which the Age Verification Programme is one.
“The Age Verification Program is to control the sale of alcohol to minors or underage persons, that is, persons under 18 years of age. Alcohol is strictly for adults and as we say in our company, children and alcohol do not mix”, Mr. Sobowale said at the event.
He added: “We recognise that our efforts alone will not be sufficient to achieve success. So we are enlisting partners such as you (the supermarket chains) in this effort and would like to thank you for accepting to partner with us. We have started taking the campaign to retail outlets (bars) where alcohol is consumed and we are looking at expanding our reach in the near future through the involvement of more partners at off-trade and at point-of-consumption outlets. By working together, we can accomplish greater scale and impact.”
He hoped the initiative would open up new horizons in the campaign against misuse and abuse of alcohol in general and underage drinking in particular.
Commenting on the Age Verification initiative, representatives of the four supermarkets involved expressed satisfaction that Guinness Nigeria is not only interested in selling its products and generating revenue at all costs, but is also passionate about responsible drinking in the society. According to the Head of Purchasing, Grocery Bazaar, Mr Joseph Isa, “The initiative is a bold one, especially coming from a brewing giant who should ordinarily be interested in selling its brands. I think Guinness Nigeria has once again shown itself as a leader in the industry and other brewers should follow suit.”